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Exploring the paradors of undiscovered Catalonia

Catalonia’s ancient towns and delicious delicacies are complemented by stays in historic Parador hotels, says Dave Richardson

Before going to bed at my hotel in Lerida, I wonder if I might have troubled dreams. The latest addition to the state-owned Parador hotel range is converted from a 17th century convent, and played a part in Catalonia’s turbulent history.

 

In 1707 during the War of Spanish Succession, 700 people were sheltering inside during a siege when the convent was set alight. The many who died are seen as martyrs and the suppression of Catalan nationalism after the war is still a live issue today.

 

Fortunately I sleep soundly, but when dining in the hotel’s grand domed restaurant (the former church) or walking the corridors of the old cloister, I do feel part of history. Many of the 98-strong Spanish Parador chain are converted from castles, convents, palaces or other historic buildings. As they can be found all over mainland Spain (plus a few in the Canary Islands), there’s no better way of discovering the country’s history, culture, gastronomy and traditions on a trip there.

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